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SLP Skill Saturday #3:Patience

23 February 2013

Patience is not just a necessary skill, it's actually elevated above many... after all, not many desirable characteristics can say they have proverbs written concerning them. Can't think of it? Think of the term 'virtue.' Still not ringing a bell? Well, there's a saying that patience is a virtue.' This holds very true, not only in life, but within the professional world as well.

As with many jobs, especially those working with children or in medicine, patience plays a key role. You need to be able to keep your calm and wait out the rough patches. Maybe the parents of a child are thinking more progress should be made; maybe an adult patient is having a hard time overcoming a pronunciation barrier; or, just maybe the weekend can't come soon enough. You need to be able to understand and find a way to be patient and cost through these, as well as find ways to overcome them in the best way possible. If not, the saying's cousin "haste makes waste" might pay you a visit. Perhaps you fill out some forms too quickly because you just want them to be done with, but later you realize that you marked some things incorrectly due to impatience. Now you have to fill them all out again. Sometimes, it is out of your control as well.

Sometimes, patience comes in the form of waiting for progress. This is a major part of the speech-language pathologist's career. Progress almost certainly never comes instantly. So for those who seek instant gratification from major accomplishments should not seek this career. It takes time to build the concepts and skills for a client to begin to overcome their impediment. Even more time if it is a larger issue to tackle or if it is due to other underlying causes. Let alone, the client may have it "click" while in therapy, but might not actually incorporate the therapy into his/her actual every-day life. This job require lots of patience, as it can take weeks, months or even years to make progress. Don't let that discourage you though, as there are minor victories along the way to help boost morale and show you it is possible.

One way to see this in perspective is illustrated by what my one teacher continually tells us hopeful Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists, which goes something along the lines of: "Your role as a Speech-Language Pathologist is not to cure these people; your job is to help them gain a better quality of life." So, if you find your patience wearing low, try not to focus on the big picture and attempting to cure your client. You need to focus on helping him/her and finding hope and joy in the smaller triumphs that lead up to major progress. As long as what you are doing is helping them feel better and have a better quality of life, then you are successful. You just need to enjoy the ride at a pace set for them, and not lose patience in our high-paced, goal-oriented world.